Despite Coronavirus, Caribbean Anti-Smuggling Efforts Continue

The crew of the Escanaba with the cocaine seizure (USCG)

Published Apr 24, 2020 7:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

The COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted many organizations' operations, but smuggling activity and anti-narcotics efforts continue unabated in the Caribbean. On April 13, the U.S. Coast Guard stopped a drug smuggling operation in international waters northeast of Panama.

A Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, forward deployed with the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba, spotted a suspect fishing vessel with five people aboard. The Escanaba crew sent a small boat crew to the scene.

The cutter Escanaba small boat crew recovered 40 bales of cocaine, and a nearby Panamanian law enforcement boat crew recovered 43 bales, taking a total approximately $60 million wholesale that would have otherwise funded transnational criminal organizations. The 40 bales recovered by the Escanaba crew were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Raymond Evans.

Images courtesy USCG 

“During this uncertain time, our U.S. military forces continue to aggressively interdict narcotics being smuggled in our hemisphere," said Vice Adm. Scott Buschman, Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander. "Like the crew of the Escanaba, we will continue to protect our nation's maritime borders, ensure our security and carry out all Coast Guard's missions."